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Distance Learning Marriage and Family Counseling Degree Programs

Get info about online programs in marriage and family counseling. Read about program requirements, course topics and career options to make an informed decision about online learning.

Essential Information

Marriage and family counseling degrees are typically at the graduate level. Online programs in this field are available at several public and private four-year universities or colleges; however, they usually have some on-site requirements. These on-site requirements may include short, campus-based residencies. Students looking for a similar program that is fully online with no on-site requirements may be interested in a master's degree program in psychology.

Applicants to an online marriage and family counseling master's program must have a bachelor's degree, which often needs to include some social science undergraduate coursework. Some schools require students to have relevant professional or volunteer experience as well. Prospective students should ensure that an online program meets the academic requirements for their states' licensing boards.

Master's Degree in Marriage and Family Counseling

Colleges offering distance learning marriage and family counseling degree programs train counselors in providing therapy and assistance to couples, children and other family members. These programs, which typically take around three years to complete, have the same coursework as those held on campus. Master's degree students studying in this field may have to complete a comprehensive exam or other capstone, but a thesis is usually not required.

Course Topics

Distance learning marriage and family degree programs may include:

  • Counseling Ethics
  • Human Growth and Development
  • Counseling Techniques
  • Counseling Theory
  • Human Sexuality
  • Individual Appraisal
  • Child Psychology
  • Treatment Planning

Distance Learning Considerations

Online marriage and family counseling programs are attractive to busy professionals and students who want to receive training at their leisure. Through their schools' Web sites, students can log into an online classroom environment featuring communication tools and course materials like lectures, videos and assignments.

Although coursework can be completed online, distance learning students pursuing a degree in this field should be prepared to attend short campus-based residencies at various points in their studies. In addition, the clinical component required for state licensure makes counseling internships and/or practicums a standard part of online master's programs.


Career Information

Most students who complete online marriage and family counseling degree programs work in a private setting. However, many jobs are available in elementary and high schools, non-profit organizations and government agencies. These careers include:

  • Marriage and family counselor
  • School counselor
  • Social worker
  • Manager of counseling services
  • Child welfare officer

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 32,070 marriage and family counseling jobs as of 2015. From 2014 to 2024, job growth is expected to be 15%, which is well above the national average. As of 2015, the BLS reported that the median annual salary for marriage and family therapists was $48,600.

Those hoping to work in marriage and family counseling can earn an online master's degree in which students learn about human growth and development, counseling techniques, counseling theory and treatment planning. Coursework can be completed entirely online, though students often need to complete campus-based residencies or internships.

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